Jenny Wem
08.03.2019

Removing barriers for women in tech in 2019

While important steps towards diversification are being made in many arenas, there’s still a lot to be done to embrace women in tech.

Happy International Women’s Day! This year’s campaign theme is #BalanceForBetter – a call to create a gender balanced world.

We all benefit from gender balance, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially in the tech field. It’s important to consider what can be done to remove barriers for women in technology, but it’s vital that we take concrete actions rather than just paying lip service.

I’m Jenny and I’m a front end engineer on Datasine’s product team. I don’t have a traditional tech background – I studied Illustration and Contemporary Art, and worked as a Barista, Gallery Assistant and Printmaker before studying at a coding bootcamp and developing really strong feelings about JavaScript.

Jenny Wem, Front End Engineer at DataSine

Jenny Wem, Front End Engineer at Datasine

I spent a long time in my pre-tech life thinking that I wasn’t “technical” enough to pursue a career as a Developer, at least partially due to having absorbed some negative messages about the tech industry. Now I’ve been coding for two years, I really want to encourage other women to get involved – so let’s examine some of the reasons that women aren’t going into technology.

Why is there a gender imbalance in tech?

According to a study by PwC, just 3% of women said that a career in technology was their first choice, and only 5% of leadership positions are held by women. Overall, just 17% of workers in the UK tech sector are women. Some of the reasons for this gender imbalance include:

  • Lower numbers of women studying STEM subjects at school and university;
  • Male dominated workplaces/cultures;
  • Long hours, especially in startups;
  • Lack of female role models in STEM fields.

Here at Datasine, we value diversity. In fact, it’s one of our core company values. So we’re doing our best to take real steps to combat these issues.

Concrete action: Datasine’s approach

Team at DataSine

Jenny Wem with her team on top of the Datasine HQ on International Women’s Day 2019

We hire from non-traditional tech backgrounds – half of our Developers do not have degrees in a STEM subject (myself included!), and came to programming through career changes after working in other fields. By valuing experience in a broader way, we’re able to attract more female employees who may not have chosen to study STEM in school or university.

We aim to have an inclusive social culture too. Our recent team-building activities include a company retreat to Lisbon, playing darts, learning to cook pastries, escaping an escape room and going for meals together. We aim to appeal to people from all walks of life with these varied activities, rather than just “brogrammers” (think ping-pong and beer fridges).

We also value wellbeing and work-life balance very highly at Datasine! We’ve been running a popular meditation group for over a year now, work sensible hours and are able to work flexibly as necessary. We understand that people have families, hobbies and lives outside of work.

The development of technical skills should be gender-blind, and we support all Datasine employees with their learning goals. Everyone gets a learning and development budget, which can be used for anything that will help to promote their skills, such as books, conferences and courses.

We also provide a platform to discuss technical subjects in the form of knowledge sharing meetings. Anyone in the company, regardless of seniority, background or gender, is encouraged to give a short talk showcasing an area of expertise.

What collective action can we take to break down barriers for women in tech?

The actions we’ve taken at Datasine could be applied to any startup or tech company, and by taking action together we can progress towards a more gender-balanced world. Here’s a quick summary of steps that can be taken to level the playing field for women in tech:

  • Consider hiring from non-traditional tech backgrounds. Since fewer women pursue STEM subjects academically, maybe you could broaden requirements in job ads to include candidates who followed an unconventional path to tech, such as self-taught developers or bootcamp graduates.
  • Avoid creating a homogenous culture. A company that values diversity and works to build an inclusive culture will be an appealing workplace for a wide variety of people.
  • Value wellbeing and work-life balance. By providing flexible hours, people with families and dependents are not barred from technical roles.
  • Nurture technical talent. By developing the skills of women in technical roles, we can create role models.

 

#balanceforbetter

Celebrating Women in Tech in 2019 at Datasine

Get involved. Join Datasine!

These are some of the steps we’ve taken at Datasine to remove barriers for women in technology, but we’re aware that it’s a long journey. If you’d like to be a part of it, we’d love to hear from you. And guess what? We’re hiring at Datasine!

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